Sunday School

Posted: February 9, 2009 in Lessons

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy our Sunday School teacher, John Wilson. Well, when he is out of town, Randy Chesnutt fills in. This is like having Barry Bonds as your steroid supplier, only when he isn’t available, Roger Clemens comes over. Either way you know you’re getting some good stuff.

Randy taught yesterday on the first chapter of Titus, and it was a most excellent class.

I don’t think he intended to spend so much time on the instructions about appointing elders, but our class had lots of questions and comments. Elder selection has been a contentious topic in our fellowship over the years. Churches of Christ are notorious for nitpicking words, and the list Paul sent Titus about what to look for in his potential elders is perfect territory for nitpickers.

(Randy told a great story about a place arguing over the verse that an elder should “manage his children well”; specifically, arguing over whether or not an elder must have more than one child. He said the argument that won the day went like this: “When you go up to a public restroom that says MEN on the door, do you have to wait for someone else to go in with you because you are just one man?” For some reason that one worked.)

I was glad to hear a New Testament Greek scholar agree with what I had come to believe about the passage. Paul wasn’t giving a checklist of qualifications for everyone to use; instead, he was telling Titus the “qualities” of the type of person to look for on Crete. If Paul was giving an exhaustive list for all time, why did he give Timothy a different list to use in Ephesus?

Randy made an extra point in that regard that I had never noticed. He compared the qualities listed in verses 6-9 with the description of the Cretin troublemakers in verses 10-16 to show us that Paul was describing two totally different types of people (in other words, pick these sort of folks to lead you as opposed to the troublemakers in your ranks).

Randy got a little uncomfortable as folks peppered him with questions because the implications for folks “like us” are pretty staggering, and I for one was ecstatic to see that way of thinking developed.

#1: Think of the possibilities if there isn’t a “list” of qualifications for elders but instead the type of leaders needed in the community vary by location.

#2: Further, we discussed that there is never a real explanation in the New Testament of what elders are to do either (i.e. a job description). Again, think of the possibilities if there isn’t a job description for elders; instead, the role of a church’s leaders varies with location.

I think these little thoughts alone could go a long way for making Churches of Christ healthier places. My cynical nature leads me to believe this approach won’t ever catch on. Still, it was so nice to sit in a class where the vast majority of participants were much older than Jody and I and even hear it discussed.

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